It’s something I do every day for about an hour or until I read the same bit nine times over because I’m so drowsy it chases my prodigious concentrative powers away. No matter what’s happened to me that day, or what’s happened at work, or what’s happening in the world, I leave the world for an hour a night and find succor—assistance and support in times of hardship and distress—from visiting other eras, other lands, problems or people.
Wednesday evening, however, my breathtakingly level-headed wife was anything but level-headed. She was convinced she was hearing the galloping hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse circling the Upper East Side and looking for a parking spot prior to Visiting our three-bedroom aerie.
As I was reading about the end of the Weimar and Germany’s descent into twelve years of hell, my ever-loving bustled into my space.
She was shaking her delicate right mitt like she had just touched a too-hot (and too-expensive) designer Wolf four-burner stovetop like the one that sits in our recently remodeled kitchen which many people believe is New York’s most lavish and expensive.
I quickly saw that she hadn’t burned her meat hand, but instead was brandishing an old mercury thermometer. It was a device her grandmother gave her probably when she went away to college back when Gerald Ford was President.
I did some math in my head and quickly concluded that my temperature was about to be measured on a 45-year-old apparatus that likely cost 79-cents when it was spanking new. She shoved the device back to my epiglottis like she was clearing a hair-clogged drain. Then she left the room to watch the remaining 19 hours of Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1965 adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Finally having not heard from me in a while my wife remembered to return to the scene of the insertion and read the thermometer.
She looked ashen. Pale. Downright disconsolate.
“It’s 105.2,” she tremuloed.
“It can’t be,” I said. “Yesterday I was my typical 81 degrees.” (I have the blood of a garden snake.)
She took my temperature again.
The same result.
“That thermometer is broken,” I barked.
She gave me the once over, wondering if any of her three or four little black dresses was appropriately funereal. She slowly gave me the once over, her dark eyes scanned my girth, sizing me up for a casket.
I wish I could say that was that. That the little incident didn’t keep me up Wednesday night. That every little sneeze or hack or even itch I feel is some indication that I ain’t got long for this world.
At around ten-thirty, having already completed a day’s work or two, I went out on a Quixote like quest for rubbing alcohol. Apparently, this most-vital of all liquids is absolutely necessary for our survival and there is none of the stuff between here and Alpha Centauri.
I found peroxide, which I suppose would do in a pinch. At the cash registers, between the king sized candy bars (do kings eat Snickers?) and little tubes of wart remover was a shelf with modern electronic thermometers.
When I returned home I was like a kid on Christmas morning.
I ripped open the almost-impossible-to-open packaging. I even did something I had never done before: I read the instructions.
Finally, I took my temperature. Dreading seeing the death sentence of 105.2.
Have a good weekend all.